Pedestrian arterial and freeway crossing behaviour in Cape Town: Observations and Implications

Author(s): Behrens, Roger
All authors:
Behrens, R.
Host organisation: CoE Cape Town, South Africa
Country: South Africa
Publication year: 2010
Published in:
Conference paper, 12th WTCR, July 11-15, 2010 - Lisbon, Portugal
Research theme: Management and Control, Mobility and Access, Traffic Safety, Walking and Cycling
pedestrian behaviour
Conference proceedings
This paper reports on a series of small indicative studies, undertaken between 2004 and 2008, that observed pedestrian crossing behaviour on selected arterials and freeways in Cape Town, using a variety of methods. The starting hypothesis for these studies was that the plotted distance of observed unassisted pedestrian crossing points from the nearest crossing facility would follow an S-shaped curve. Closer to the crossing facility, fewer unassisted pedestrian crossings were expected than further away, where detour refusal rates were anticipated to be higher. It was posited that the start of the S-curve would differ in accordance with variations in perceived vehicle collision risk. Thus it was anticipated that the S-curve of a freeway would start further from the crossing facility than the S-curve of an arterial. It was believed that understanding the characteristics of this curve, and how it differed across road classes, would add valuable insights into the spacing between crossing facilities required to reduce unassisted and illegal pedestrian crossing behaviour. The paper describes the findings of three studies. The first observed pedestrian crossing points on two arterials using manual counts and measurements (n=4,518 crossings). The second study identified crossing points along the entire intra city length of two freeways using informal footpath recognition from aerial photographs (n=305 crossing points), as well as undertaking an intercept survey of pedestrians crossing at-grade (n=100 pedestrians). The third study observed pedestrian crossing points on selected sections of the same two freeways, and undertook an intercept survey of pedestrians crossing both at-grade, and on grade-separated crossing facilities (n=650 pedestrians). It is reported, inter alia, that the hypothesised S-curve was not observed in these studies, and that significant numbers of pedestrians cross unassisted at small distances from crossing facilities. The paper concludes that understanding or estimating pedestrian desire lines and walking trip assignment is more important than understanding detour refusal distances in locating crossing facilities and in attempting to minimise unassisted or illegal crossing patterns.
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